GRAND RIVER, Mich. – A big blue dumpster has been an eyesore sitting in the middle of Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids since the record-setting floods of the spring.
The city has spent weeks trying to figure out a way to remove it safely, until a couple of guys decided to get the job done themselves.
But what Keith Brown and Wade Baumgardner accomplished in 35 minutes on Monday gives new meaning to the term, ‘dumpster diving.’
Brown and Baumgardner have been friends for years. They grew up swimming and fishing in the Grand River. “We’ve taken out over 40,000 pounds of steel last year,” Baumgardner said. “Motorcycles, engines, all kinds of stuff that is at the bottom of the river.”
“We went out there with a bucket and started bailing water,” said Brown, “and once the water level got below the river level, it started moving, and we thought if we kept going maybe it will move.”
The two men managed to steer the waste bin to the banks of the river at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in front of Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.
“We just wanted it out of the water, because it makes the city look like crap having a dumpster in the water,” said Baumgardner. “We fish here, and people come here, and this is the presidential museum … and seeing a dumpster in front of it, it’s not good.”
Once ashore, a tow truck did the heavy lifting. The dumpster had been sitting in the river since the April floods pulled it from its spot in Riverside Park.
Tom Mahoney, the general manager of Republic Waste Services,, which owns the bin, was surprised at the the men’s actions. “We’ve been working with the city and city manager’s department and the sanitation department, as well as the fire department. We wanted to make sure that when we did get it out that everyone would be safe.”
James Hurt, the public service director of Grand Rapids, said they had no idea two men would take it upon themselves to free the dumpster. Hurt said the city was waiting until water levels were low to ensure no one would get hurt attempting to remove the dumpster from the Grand River.